Around three million workers in this country have jobs to repair or service equipment or machinery. According to OSHA, the number of lockout/tagout fatalities each year range between 150 and 200. The number of lockout/tagout accidents per year average 60,000. The best way to avoid an accident is to shut off power, lock out energy, release stored energy and double-check.
Lockout is the preferred method of isolating machines or equipment from the release of energy sources. These sources can be mechanical motion, motion due to pressure, gravity, springs that are under tension or compression, electrical, or thermal (high or low temperatures).
All equipment must be locked or tagged out to protect against accidental or inadvertent operation when such operation could cause injury to personnel. Persons must not attempt to operate any switch, valve, or other energy-isolating device when it is locked or tagged out. OSHA standards require that a designated person turns off and disconnects machinery/ equipment from its energy source before the service/maintenance is performed. To prevent unauthorized persons from reactivating the flow of energy, the point of control must be secured by locks, tags, and/or posting a qualified person, or a combination of all three.
Listed below are types of businesses that are not covered under these standards, but are covered under other standards:
- Construction, agriculture and maritime equipment
- Electric utilities
- Oil and gas well drilling and servicing
- Work on cord and plug connected equipment that is unplugged and under control of employee, and
- Gas steam, water or petroleum hot tap operations under certain circumstances.
Almost 95 percent of all lockout/tagout citations involve not having a formal Energy Control Program in place. Lockout/tagout remains near the top of the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration’s (OSHA) list of most frequently violated standards. Injuries and citations could be reduced by properly training all employees on lockout/tagout procedures.